To the Board of the Owen Sound Downtown Improvement Area (OSDIA), members of the OSDIA, and patrons of downtown Owen Sound businesses,

After the recent announcement from the OSDIA of the appointment of Waleed Aslam Shaikh as a director on the OSDIA Board of Directors, I am releasing a statement in support of Mr. Aslam Shaikh.

As a downtown business owner, I believe that it is our collective responsibility to be an inclusive community and to take a zero tolerance stance on racism and Islamophobia. I have seen a dialogue online criticizing the OSDIA for Mr. Aslam Shaikh's appointment and intolerance of Muslim-owned businesses in Owen Sound. The OSDIA made this decision to appoint because Mr. Aslam Shaikh is a valuable member of this community, and will bring his experience and expertise to decision-making processes concerning downtown businesses. As the owner of the Milk Maid, I am thrilled to see diversification in our board of representatives, and trust that Waleed will bring the best interest of our community with him to those decisions. There absolutely is space for the Muslim community in Owen Sound and I am taking a stance against any discriminatory comments that say otherwise.

I hope to see other business owners in our OSDIA making similar statements in support of Waleed's appointment and in support of Muslim-owned businesses, because remaining silent on this issue is complicit in violence against marginalized communities.

Congratulations to Mr. Waleed Aslam Shaikh. Looking forward to seeing what you bring to the board!

Cody Hawes
Owner of the Milk Maid